Editor’s Note: This biweekly column is sponsored by Dominion Wine and Beer (107 Rowell Court, Falls Church). It is written by Garrett Cruce, a Certified Beer Server in the Cicerone Certification Program.
When I think of a winery that has a vineyard, I don’t picture the usual trappings of a farm. To be sure, a vineyard is not called a grape farm. But if you say “farm brewery,” I absolutely picture the archetypal farm — a silo, a barn and equipment everywhere.
After all, the main ingredient of beer — grains — are field crops.
This brings me to today’s topic, one that has piqued my curiosity as a craft beer lover: farm breweries. Two area breweries operate on the farms that yield most, if not all, their ingredients — Richmond’s Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery and Mt. Airy’s The Red Shedman Farm Brewery & Hop Yard. What these two breweries have in common is a deep connection to the land they work.
Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery (LCCB) is known as “Virginia’s Farm Brewery” and opened its doors in September 2013 northwest of Richmond in Goochland. It has continued growing its capabilities and offerings ever since. I first became aware of LCCB in 2013 when they grew a large Instagram following with nothing but photos of their first plantings and the construction of their brewery building. It was clear then that this was a unique brewery.
The brewery and its farm are “water-conscious and biologically friendly.” They use well-water and they reintroduce purified waste water back into the Lickinghole Creek watershed. A main aspect of their mission is to begin with the farm for the ingredients they need, then outsource for those that they cannot get. In fact, the Estate Series was created to use as many LCCB-grown ingredients as possible. While their other beers may not be made from ingredients grown on their own farm, they are often sourced from local farms or providers.
I was only able to get a hold of one LCCB beer for this article, but it was an absolute gem!
Their Estate Series Mango-Habanero Brown Ale is a real treat. The heat from the pepper balances well with the tang of the mango. Behind the fruit and pepper is a hoppy and sweet brown ale that shows the higher ABV (8.5 percent) without tasting too boozy. You can get this, and other Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery beers at Dominion Wine and Beer — they often have growler fills in addition to bottles and cans.
Opened by Vic Aellen in 2014, The Red Shedman Farm Brewery & Hop Yard sprouted on the farm that houses Linganore Winecellars in Mt. Airy, Md. Vic’s brother, Anthony Aellen, runs Linganore, which was opened in 1971 by his parents Jack and Lucille Aellen. The Red Shedman’s canning operation started in late November, allowing them to self-distribute their brews locally.
In order to obtain a farm brewery license in Maryland, a brewery must grow at least one ingredient that they use. The Red Shedman goes one better by growing barley and hops. Though the barley they grow doesn’t provide enough grain for their beer just yet, they are using farm-grown hops in all their beers.
All of The Red Shedman’s canned beers are available at Georgetown Square’s sister store, Downtown Crown Wine and Beer. The standouts among their solid line up are their Pump House IPA and Vanilla Porter.
Pump House IPA is a West Coast IPA that balances piney hops with a pleasantly sweet maltiness. This beer is mash hopped, which instills a vibrant hop flavor without too much bitterness as the hops are not boiled. The result is a very drinkable IPA, with plenty of flavor.
Their Vanilla Porter is a simple and flavorful beer that is suitable for a light dessert or even with creamy cheeses. The bitterness from the black malt balances the warming vanilla to create a memorable experience. I mentioned in my Instagram post about the Vanilla Porter that this was the best one of its kind that I’ve had. That may have been a bit of hyperbole, but you cannot go wrong with this beer!
Do you have a favorite or new farm brewery that you can share? Or have you tried either of today’s breweries’ offerings? Tell us about them. Cheers!
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.